March 28, 2014

In a March 27 filing to the Santa Monica city clerk’s office, proponents of Santa Monica Airport (SMO) called for an amendment to the city’s charter requiring voter approval of any non-aviation redevelopment of the land on which the airport currently sits.

The filing noted that SMO and surrounding aviation-related businesses represent “low density, valuable community land uses that generate business, jobs and tax revenue for the city.”

“It is clear from their statements and their actions – that the politicians can’t be trusted to maintain a low density land use,” the filing stated, “and therefore it is left to the people to express their vote before the city of Santa Monica takes any action to redevelop airport land.”

Following the filing, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said: “NBAA has always fought to maintain America’s essential, national network of airports, and to ensure that business aviation has full and unencumbered access to each facility in that network. Since Santa Monica is clearly an airport of regional and national significance, we believe its future is ultimately a federal issue. But we also believe strongly that community support for airports is often understated—particularly by those intent on maximizing revenues by redeveloping the property. We are encouraged that, when it comes to Santa Monica Airport, local voices have joined in the fight to preserve a key airport in our national system and prevent its redevelopment.”

Over the past 50 years, Santa Monica city officials have repeatedly attempted to restrict operations at SMO, with each prior case determined in favor of the federal government.

NBAA has been active in numerous efforts to preserve SMO, including work to ensure continued recognition of the FAA’s lawful authority over the facility, and ongoing work to oppose repeated efforts by Santa Monica City officials to impose damaging access restrictions to the airport.

As the most recent example, on Feb. 10, NBAA joined with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association AOPA in filing a brief of amicus curiae supporting the FAA’s position against a lawsuit filed by the city last year, asserting that Santa Monica never relinquished ownership to the airport when it leased the property to the United States government ahead of World War II. Learn more about the amicus brief filed on Feb. 10.

Despite a subsequent federal court ruling in favor of the FAA’s position, on March 25, city council members voted unanimously to pursue further restrictions at SMO.

Their decision came in response to a city-led report on options intended to curtail the airport’s usefulness to general aviation operators, including NBAA Member Companies. A city council meeting, in which NBAA Western Regional Representative Stacy Howard spoke in support of preserving the facility, preceded the vote.

Read more about the city’s report and NBAA’s role in the March 25 council meeting.